Although this was once Jack the Ripper’s east London stomping ground, the closest you’ll come to peril in today’s Whitechapel is by dining out on authentically fiery Bangladeshi or Punjabi curry. The multicultural area has them by the bucketload in joints as popular as long-standing Tayyabs – the restaurant has been going strong since 1972, doubtless thanks to its cheap eats and BYO policy. Bustling Whitechapel Market offers just as much in the diversity stakes, or you can take in culture the traditional way, with a browse around Whitechapel Gallery’s contemporary exhibitions.
What are your favourite Whitechapel hangouts? Let us know in the comments.
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Opened in 2005, Kolapata – ‘banana leaf’ in Bengali – has been a leading destination to experience Bangladeshi cooking in London. The restaurant is modest, cheap and very popular with local Bangladeshis. When the food is freshly cooked and the full complement of chefs from Dhaka is in the kitchen, the flavours and freshness sing; expect a large range of grilled dishes and curries, and look for the list of house specials including starters, fish dishes and biryanis.
Genesis Cinema Whitechapel
Lucky old Whitechapel. They get to have the gorgeous Genesis as their local. Not only is it cheap, but it's also been beautifully renovated in the past two years by guys who design film sets for a living (try knocking the bricks upstairs on the mezzanine level). The end result is pretty much a perfect local cinema, where you’ll find proper old East End ladies drinking coffee next to cool kids on laptops in the café. There’s a bar upstairs, and if you want to fill your face, you’re in for a treat. Choose between crodoughs from nearby 100-year-old bakery Rinkoffs, or the snack bar with a wall of Pick ’n’ Mix or jumbo hotdogs from World’s Wurst (terrible name, brilliant bangers, from £3.90). Book seats in the Studio 5 boutique screening room with armchairs and a cosy bar for a date.
Restaurants in Whitechapel
Things to do in Whitechapel
Stretching between Vallance Road and Cambridge Heath Road, the lively Whitechapel Market has every type of speciality Asian ingredient you’ll ever need. It's also well stocked with fruit and veg, cut-price toiletries, phone cards, cheap fashion, haberdashery essentials, flowers and fabrics. From Whitechapel Market, you can look west along the high street to where the Gherkin stands out above the City. It might as well be the Emerald City for all the relevance it has here: this is a non-stop, heaving, all-weather, cacophonous East End micro-economy, born of pragmatism rather than fashion and largely sustained by local Bangladeshis.